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Each quarter we do our best to provide you with an update on any Smilers related information, news snippets and anything else we think you might be interested in!  Full details of all new issues will appear under the New Issues menu option.

Earlier News Reports (e.g. Q1-18) are provided in Adobe Acrobat pdf file format and are generally available during the first couple of weeks following the preceding quarter. Click on this link News Archive to go to the Smilers News Archive page.


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Q3 2018 

  • Year of The Pig from Royal Mail 

    Royal Mail have announced the eighth Generic Sheet in their Lunar New Year Generic Sheet series to be issued on the 15th November 2018. The ‘Year of the Pig’ runs from 5th February 2019 to 24th January 2020. 

    The labels are designed by hat-trick design and feature paper cut-outs both on the bright red background of the sheet and the labels representing the five elements of Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. The pictorial labels depict Lunar New Year festivities taking place in five UK locations and the remainder show five generic images related to the Lunar New Year. All the labels are complemented by the Fireworks definitive stamp. The Pig is the last of the 12 animals featured in the Lunar New Year with 2019 being the “Year of the Earth Pig,” and purports to be a year of fortune and luck also a year of friendship and love for all the zodiac signs; an auspicious year because the Pig attracts success in all the spheres of life. With Brexit looming let's hope so! (05/10)

  • Jersey Post Commemorative Sheet 

    A new Commemorative Sheet has been issued by Jersey Post to coincide with the second RBC Super League Triathlon Jersey which took place between 28-30 September 2018. The sheet contains twenty Jersey stamps affixed to stamp labels featuring images from the 2017 event.

    An annual event, RBC Super League Triathlon Jersey is a new championship series combining the three core triathlon disciplines but with an alternative approach to the Olympic standard. Points are awarded for three individual stages: the Triple Mix, the Equaliser and the Eliminator rounds. The world's best triathletes compete against each other in a mix of grueling short-course tracks and Olympic speed-racing during the event which is broadcast live to millions across the globe. We have a limited number of these sheets in stock priced £27.50 + incl. UK pp.  If interested please e-mail me in the first instance to arrange payment/delivery. (02/10)

  • STAMPEX Rumours

    The jungle drums are often responsible for inaccurate messages so don't blame the messenger but rumour has it that the STAMPEX organisers (PTS) has two new designs in hand for next year's STAMPEX events and possibly a third for the international exhibition planned for 2020, although the drums are fainter on the last point.  I'll update you as soon as I have more news but this adds an interesting twist to the demise of the Business Customised Stamp Sheet, whose reported demise may have been premature!! (27/09)

  • Harry Potter Mega Issue Announced

    Today, Royal Mail announce their autumn mega issue which for a second time features the characters and films of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. Royal Mail's press announcement explains the rationale behind the issue.

    "The critically acclaimed Harry Potter films have attracted huge audiences worldwide, with the popularity still prevailing even though it is seven years since the last film was released. 

    Harry Potter remains one of the most popular and enduring themes worldwide and along with the Star Wars franchise has close to universal awareness in the UK. These unique stamps have been produced in association with Warner Bros and The Blair Partnership – an agency that represents J.K. Rowling - to celebrate the critically-acclaimed series of films. 

    The stamps not only feature some of the most popular characters including Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Neville Longbottom but there are also five Hogwarts professors contained on a Special Miniature Sheet. Also appearing on the stamps are selected portkeys as well as the most iconic modes of transport amongst them being the Hogwarts Express, the motor bike ridden by Hagrid, the Knight Bus and the Triwizard Cup. 

    The stamps also use the official Harry Potter font denoting the “1st” class service. Some Special Features on the stamps include the official Harry Potter font denoting the “1st” class service. We’ve also added a little extra magic and intrigue to both the stamps and the Miniature Sheet which can be seen under UV light."

    Most products will be issued on the 16th October 2018 with the Prestige Booklet and Limited Edition Prestige Booklet following on the 4th December 2018 to coincide with the release of the latest Harry Potter spin-off, Fantastic Beasts 2.   Royal Mail's marketing strategy now includes a significant "push" into the collectibles and fan based markets to complement their philatelic pursuits. Needless to say probably less than 5% of the products produced will ever see action on an envelope which is sad given Royal mails long and illustrious history. 

    That said, there is a wealth of products to choose from: mint stamps, prestige booklets, retail booklets, mini sheets, first day covers, presentation packs and a whole host of fan based collector items but the product we are interested in is a collector sheet (generic Smilers sheet to you and me) which features all 10 new stamps alongside labels featuring various aspects of the films and their characters.   

    GS-115

    The A4 sized collectors sheet features all 10  new stamps along with labels showing film stills from the WB film archives. The sheet comes with a protective backing card and clear plastic cover. The self adhesive sheet is competitively priced at £7.70 (£1 above face) and is probably as good a sheet as I have seen from Royal Mail. The collector sheet is self-adhesive (the stamps in the set are water activate gum), printed in litho by International Security Printers. Under UV light the magic comes to life as this image shows. (27/09)

     

  • 2018 Christmas Smilers announced

    Royal Mail have unveiled their 2018 Generic Label Christmas Smilers today which goes on sale on 1 November 2018 priced £17.50. As in previous years it will consist of a combination of different stamp values from the planned Christmas issue, also out on the same day.  The Generic Sheet contains eight 1st Class stamps and eight 2nd Class stamps together with one each of the other values £1.25, £1.45, £1.55 & £2.25 complete with a wintry illustration in the background.

    GS-114

    Royal Mail advise : "The set of 8 Christmas 2018 stamps highlights how ‘Royal Mail delivers Christmas’; showing scenes of everyday life involving a range of post boxes in different wintry settings, from towns to countryside.."

    A rather romantic view of Christmas in my opinion, which looks more like an oversized Victorian Christmas Card than a reflection of modern day Britain. Perhaps this is what Britain will look like when we have left the EU! Royal Mail Product Code is AT105.  (20/09)

  • New Themed Smilers from Anglesey Cinderella Stamps

    Martin Husband, who fronts up Anglesey Cinderella Stamps, has written and advised of four new Themed Smilers sheets, either recently issued or planned over the coming months.  

    Two themed sheets using the Glorious Scotland format with revised stamps (Saltire) were issued on 1st September 2018 and feature two Scottish Islands and their respective local geological features.

    • Isle Of Mull - Durart's Castle, and
    • Orkney - Stones of Stennes

     

    TS-563

    TS-564

    Two further sheets are planned over the coming months with the first of these scheduled for 1st October 2018 featuring Isle of Anglesey - Church-in-the-Sea and the final sheet due out in January 2019 featuring the Shetlands based Up Helly Aa 2019 festival.

    All the above sheets are priced at £40.00 plus p&p and can be ordered via Martin at his website - click on link above. (09/09)

  • United for Wildlife Commemorative Sheet

    Royal Mail have announced the issue of a "Commemorative" stamp sheet to be released on the 10th October 2018 priced £15.95 from Royal Mail. 

    The Royal Mail press release informs us that .....

    "United for Wildlife is one of many projects created by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. Led by The Duke of Cambridge and with the help of ambassadors from around the world and key partner organisations, it unites the world ¡s leading wildlife charities under a common purpose: to create a global movement for change. The organisation is committed to:

    • Better On-Site Protection for wildlife.

    • Reduce demand for illegal wildlife products.

    • Improve law enforcement.

    • Work with the private sector to reduce trafficking.

    • In 2014 United for Wildlife created a Transport Taskforce, of leaders from the global transportation industry, to identify opportunities to break the illegal wildlife trade chain between suppliers and consumers. Royal Mail are members of this Taskforce and work with enforcement agencies to support the action.

    • Engage young people with conservation."

    All highly commendable and worthy perhaps of a Royal Mail stamp issue but I don't understand why they have chosen a commemorative stamp sheet as their chosen vehicle. I do not recognise the event or occasion it commemorates so as a subject for a series of Commemorative Sheets that Royal Mail originally stated would be to commemorate events or occasions not covered by the Royal Mail stamp programme is in my opinion absurd and has more to do with commercially opportunism than a social consciousness!!

    Royal Mail have effectively eliminated all competition by abandoning their Business Customised Stamp sheet service which would have happily covered this topic and raise money for charities in the process (RIP Tony Buckingham).

    Don't get me wrong, it's a nice sheet and I am sure 100's if not 1000's of Royal Mail customers will buy. No doubt 100's more thematic collectors will be compelled to add this to their wildlife collections but is this really an appropriate subject for Royal Mail to cover based ont he Commemorative descriptor for this product line? I would be interested in your comments so have posted this article online on my blog page and you can dip in with your comments and thoughts. 

    If you think I am just having a rant let me know. If you agree with me then let me know your thoughts at Smilers-info Blog Spot (08/09)

  • 250th Anniversary of Captain Cook's Voyage aboard HMS Endeavour

    This year is the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook's voyage of discovery aboard HMS Endeavour and Royal Mail will be marking this event with a set of new stamps and mini sheet due out on 16th August 2018.  At Ridgewood, we have decided to mark this event with a limited edition Themed Smilers sheet and Smilers souvenir First Day Cover and are pleased to announce the following new Themed Sheet design and First Day Cover postmarked Plymouth and dated 16th August 2018.

    TS-562

    TS-562-FDC

    Both are available to purchase on-line by clicking either of the above images, or you can pre-order by sending me an e-mail with your requirements. Due to existing holiday arrangements (which my wife tells me I cannot change) I will not be able to dispatch them until first week in September so you can delay payment if you wish until last week in August. Our prices for these collectibles are £37.50 per full sheet of 20 stamps/labels, £20 per half sheet and £5.95 per cover which comes with an illustrated insert card containing further details of Captain Cook's voyage on HMS Endeavour. All prices include p+p.  (26/07)

  • Jersey Holidays for Heroes Commemorative Sheet Announced 

    Whilst the news for customised stamp sheet collectors is less than heartening on the mainland with the cessation of the Business Customised and Personalised Stamp Sheet services, news from the islands is more optimistic!  Jersey Post have just announced a new commemorative sheet to celebrate the 10th anniversary of local charity, Holidays for Heroes Jersey. 

    "This fantastic charity provides free holidays in Jersey for members of HM Armed Forces injured during their service. Made up of twenty UK Letter stamps affixed to stamp labels, the sheet features photographs showing some of the charity’s fundraising activities as well as families enjoying their Jersey holidays."

    We will be stocking this sheet, priced £25.00, so if interested please e-mail me in the first instance. (17/07)

  • The Last Business Customised Smilers at STAMPEX?

    The Philatelic Traders Society (PTS) look like being the source of the last Business Customised Stamp Sheet from the Royal Mail following the latter's announcement earlier this year that the service would close at the end of March 2018.

    The PTS have recently announced a stunning new Smilers sheet which will be on sale at the 2018 Autumn STAMPEX event and which could prove popular as a nostalgic memento of STAMPEX Smilers sheets past and present.

    The preliminary catalogue reference for this sheet is BC-514 which will sadly close a chapter on this aspect of the Smilers story. Over 500 different designs have emerged since their launch in 2002 with just a handful giving rise to perforation and printing varieties for the faithful to chase down. Some are so rare that only a very few seem to have survived and found their way to the collector market (Portsmouth FC).  The story continues in the shape of Royal Mail's so-called commemorative sheets which by any measure are nothing more than home-grown business customised sheets - a case of game-keeper turned poacher perhaps! (16/07) 

  • Personalised Smilers Service to the Public to Close

    Whilst on holiday recently I received an e-mail from Royal Mail containing the following announcement:

    "The personalised Smilers® service is going to be put on hold for an indefinite period from this summer as we launch a new online shop. Consumers will not be able to order personalised Smilers® sheets when the new web platform goes live until further notice.

    We are introducing a web platform this summer which will significantly improve customers’ user experience and in preparing the migration to the new website we have reviewed the range of online products and services that we offer. Following this review we have taken the decision not to migrate the Personalised Smilers® service to the new shop when it goes live at the end of July.

    The last date for consumer orders for Smilers will be 5pm on Thursday 26th July 2018.

    Whilst we will not offer the Smilers® service online or to the public we are retaining the print capability for personalised stamp sheets for Corporate purposes, Key Accounts and other business requirements so we will be able to continue to process any orders you may have."

    Whilst I am not entirely surprised at this development I was surprised to learn that they would continue to be available to Key Account customers, i.e. the philatelic trade.  I think we can consider this an interim arrangement which goes someway to make up for the loss of the Business Customised stamp sheets service but depending upon interest from the philatelic trade I can't see this continuing for very long.  

    Apparently, the cost of migrating the Smilers service from one web platform to the other outweighed the commercial benefit to Royal Mail. Business speak for "they are not that popular any more and it's not worth us spending money on something that does not make a big profit."  That's privatised business for you!  (13/07)

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                                    Last updated: October 05, 2018